NFL Review 8/8-8/14

By LaDonna Williams

It’s a new week, that means it’s time for a new weekly review. This week’s NFL review there have been several severe injuries and a few that have been just a scare. There also have been, somewhat were they thinking moments.

Injuries

Lions, TE, Eric Ebron, hurt his lower leg in practice this past weekend. Different sources saying it was devastating, but others are saying it’s not as serious as it seems. Lions organization still hasn’t released a statement about his injury.

Buccaneers, DE, George Johnson, fractured his hip on Thursday at practice, he has been placed on the IR this past Saturday.

August 8, 2016

Dolphins, CB, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, tore his ACL in practice. He tore his other  ACL while playing at Oregon. Dolphins released him afterwards.

Bears, C, Hroniss Grasu, tore his ACL and he is out for the season

August 9, 2016

Patriots, DE, Rob Ninkovich, tore his triceps, return to be announced.

Patriots, WR, Julian Edelman, went down at practice today and needed help to get off the field. Later on sources stated the injury isn’t as bad as originally thought.

Giants, WR, Victor Cruz, left practice due to groin tightness. This isn’t good for Cruz because he just got off the injured reserved from last year’s injury. Can Cruz get 100% healthy this year?

Update on Stevie Johnson status as of  August 11th, he will be out for the rest of the year.

On Thursday, during the Eagles vs Tampa Bay game Carson Wentz suffered a hairline fracture in his ribs. He will miss a few weeks, the team thinks he will be back by week one. In the Steelers camp tight end Ladarius Green was sidelined not for an ankle injury, but for reoccurring headaches. At this point Steelers may want to look at another option at tight end.

On Saturday, Bills OLB IK Enemkpali tore his right ACL in the team’s preseason opener vs the Colts. He will be out the whole season.

Things that make you go hmm?

Eagles, OT, Lane Johnson facing 10-game suspension for PED violation. He is denying the report. He states what he took that triggered the violation isn’t on the NFL PED banned list.

On Aug 8th, RGIII was named starter by the Cleveland Browns. Was there another option?

Not really football related, but Tim Tebow has decided he wants to be a baseball player. Will he be a better baseball player than he was a quarterback? Good Luck Tim!

Did Jeff Fisher cut Deon Long for bringing a woman to his camp dorm room? The answer to that is YES! Long was cut July 31st but the reasons of why weren’t disclosed. It was until the Tuesday debut of Hard Knocks came on and it came out that evening.

Josh Norman is already causing issues with the Redskins. He decided (without notifying any of his coaches) to sign a deal with Fox to be a part of their NFL coverage. Yes, there are other players doing this, but I am pretty sure they spoke to their coaches before they signed the contract.

 Farewell

Wide receiver Lance Moore who just got signed by the Atlanta Falcons, announced his retirement. He has played in the NFL for 10 years.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Player Focus Jameis Winston

By Richard Wehrle

As we approach the tenth day of training camp the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have many questions that need to be answered. We will start to gain a little perspective when they take on the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday August 11 at 7:00PM EDT.

The burning question in the minds of the fans is, how far can the Buccaneers go this year? Fans of every franchise are asking the same question about their team as well. I can answer this question in regards to the 2016 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Are you ready? They will go as far as Jameis Winston will take them. I know that is a generic answer, but it is the simple truth. The Bucs drafted Winston out of Florida State last year to be their quarterback of the future. So how much improvement can we expect from his rookie campaign?

Last year Winston had a very good stat line. He finished the season with 4,042 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He had a 58.3 completion percentage and an 84.2 quarterback rating. Let’s compare that to one of his contemporaries who had similar stats last season. 

Kirk Cousins finished the season with 4,166 passing yards, 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. This is where the numbers start to differ, Cousins completed a whopping 69.8 percent of his passes and had a 101.6 quarterback rating. The difference between these quarterback is in red zone efficiency. While Cousins completed 63.3 percent of his passes inside the 20 yard line Winston only completed 40 percent. Cousins tossed 22 touchdown passes inside the red zone compared to 15 for Winston.

As you can see in order to have success this year as a team Winston needs to step up his red zone efficiency. Will he be able to avoid mistakes inside the red zone that cost his team last season? He only had one interception inside of the red zone but the 40 percent completion percentage inside the 20 yard line simply will not cut it this year. 

In my opinion Winston needs to become more of a gunslinger, like Hall of Fame quarterback Bret Favre, when he enters into the red zone. Will he make some mistakes if he does this? Of course he will, he is still a second year quarterback in the league. 

He simply needs to trust himself more and take more chances; because chances lead to points on the board, something this team is in desperate need of. Winston showed last year he has all of the tools to be a great quarterback in this league. The question remains, will he be able to get out of his own head in the red zone? If he can accomplish this I think this team can be sneaky good and almost ready to take the next step.

The Bucs will still be chasing the Carolina Panthers this season. Things could change if the Bucs can capitalize on their opportunities though. Needless to say it all starts and ends with the arm, and decision making ability, of their very talented quarterback Jameis Winston.

Cover photo: Aug 24, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) drops back to throw during the first quarter of a preseason NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

New Head Coach Dirk Keotter Showing Wrinkles in Buccaneers Offense

 Of course he is going to focus on the relationship and timing between his blossoming quarterback, Jameis Winston, and star receiver, Mike Evans.

Coach Keotter knows that a lot of his success with this squad is going to land squarely on their shoulders. 

…we’re going to come out of that tunnel…and then we’re going to show the world.

If Winston can help Evans find the end zone as often as he did in his rookie season, while maintaining his reception and yardage totals, this offense will already be dangerous.

As if that isn’t enough, Coach Keotter has decided to make it even harder for defenses to upset their rythym, by flirting with the idea of spreading prolific pass catching running back, Charles Simms and athletic monster tight end, Austin Sefarian Jenkins out wide in certain formations.

“We’ve got to keep building because we’re not where we’re supposed to be yet. But we’re going to come out of that tunnel, Lord willing, when we play Atlanta Sept. 11 and then we’re going to show the world.” Keotter said.

Koetter’s relationship and success with Winston last year is a major reason why he is now leading this team, and why the rest of league should start to worry about what is brewing down south.

Coach Keotter is known as a very humble man, but if his team embraces his philosophy, he should have a lot to be proud of in the near future. 

Do all championships matter?

January 15th, 1967
Bart Starr and Vince Lombardi enjoy a cigar together. They have just won their 4th championship together, it’s a back to back championship  (they would 3-peat a year later) they had just won a game they had considered a formality. To us now it was a way more important game. It was Superbowl I. This date divides NFL fans like no other. Imagine what Vince and Bart would have thought if this game, that meant so little to them at the time, would matter more then the 3 championships they had already won. That this one was more real then then the one they had won just the year before.

…do all championships deserve to be counted in any sport?

In 2020, just 4 years from now, the NFL will celebrate it’s 100th anniversary. That NFL season will crown a champion at Superbowl LVI  (56). That leaves 44 championships that happened before the Superbowl. Do those presuperbowl championships count? This question divides many NFL fans. If you enjoy a good argument go to a group with a Packer fan (the NFL leader with 13 if you count presuperbowl) and a Steelers fan (the NFL leader if you only count Superbowls with 6) and ask them if championships count before the Superbowl era. 

This begs the question; do all championships deserve to be counted in any sport? Should we count World Series titles from before the league was integrated? NBA championships from before the NBA and ABA merged? Stanley cups from the original 6 days? College football National Champs from before the playoff system (or before the BCS)? Any heavy weight boxing champion since Lenox Lewis? 

Here’s the argument for why they shouldn’t count in the various sports. 

Baseball

So we can talk about how pitchers pitched in 3 and 4 man rotations on 3 day rest. Or how there was no such thing as specialized relief pitchers, set-up men, or closers. Let’s focus on the integration of the league. 

Stars like Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson would have dominated in any league or era. Had they not been stuck in the negroe leagues, how many MLB records would these two hold? How much would the influx of these stars affect who won world series? How can you say you’re the World Champs if half the best players in the world play in a different league?

Basketball 

Which  NBA team drafted drafted Dr.J? The Milwaukee Bucks. Thing is he signed with a team from the ABA. As did so many of the stars of basketball. The two leagues champions both can legitimately claim to be the world champs. They didn’t play each other so who is the true champ?

Hockey 

Six teams. “6.” How can you call yourself the champion of anything in a 6 team league?

College Football

Here’s the one the argument is easiest. Before the BCS sportswriters just picked a champ. The top 4 teams rarely had played each other in the season. There were multiple champions in several seasons. There were years that a one lose team was champ over an undefeated team. 

Even the BCS era can be debated. Could the 2007 Florida Gators really have beaten the USC squad thats almost entire defense has made a nfl pro bowl? How can anyone justify having the championship game being two teams from the same division of the same conference? 

The NFL

Really there is no reason other then calling it the superbowl to start counting then. It started at the end of the second Packer dynasty, how can you say that the 66 or 67 Packers are intrinsically better then the 65 or 63 Packers? Many will tell you 1932 is the true start of modern football. You can make the argument that football wasn’t the game we know until 1981, when the west coast offense proved that a pass first offense can win, and transformed the league from a running back driven league to a quarterback driven league. You can even argue that nothing before 1993 and fee agency really can count. Deion Sanders, Charles Haley, and Reggie Whites free agent moves definitely changed who would win the championships for the next few seasons.

This all seems legit. The athletes back then weren’t as big or fast as today. The number of teams they had to play was so small how can they be considered champs? There were other leagues playing so how can one leagues team be the true champ?

So why should all championships count?

Simply put those other leagues weren’t as good. The NFL and AFL had agreed to merge in 1962. They had drafted as one entity from that point forward. The AFL (then the AFC) wasn’t able to actually compete with the NFL until 1969. That’s 8 years of building on equal terms before they compete with the NFL. When the NBA and ABA merged the ABA contracted 2/3rd of its teams. They entered the nba as essentially ABA all star teams. They didn’t dominate, these all star teams didn’t even win a championship in the NBA. 

It comes down to this you play the teams they put in front of you. You beat them and you are the champion.

Can players play in any era? I’m sure Dick Butkus  would still be a pro bowl middle linebacker today. Jim Brown would still be a star. Deacon Jones could lineup with JJ Watt.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robinson or Bill Russell would still dominate.

With their style of play, Jerry West and Pistol Pete Maravich would probably be bigger stars today then in their era.  Lou Gehrig and Ted William’s bats would have been feared in any era. 

You can only play the teams they put in front of you. You beat them and you are the champion. Period. If you win a NFL championship in 1941 and you win a championship playing in the NFL in 2011 you’ve won the exact same thing. What would you say if in 2027 they decide that all championships before instant replay don’t count, since they cannot be accurate?

You can’t pick and choose. You can’t say that college football championships only count from the BCS on and then say that all World Series count. You can’t say that all NBA championships count but only Superbowls count for the NFL. 

Either all championships count in all sports, or you have to draw a line in every sport. How does that line change if those teams were the best in the world in their time? 
J.Russell Zinn 7/28/16

Am I the Only One Who Thinks Firing Lovie Smith was a Brilliant Move?

When you think of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers you think defense, and when you think defense, you think of a guy like Lovie Smith (helped Tony Dungy develop the Tampa 2 defense).

It just kind of makes sense.

Plus, his players love and respect him, and he’s shown he can lead a team to the Super Bowl.

What is there not to like?

For starters, that Super Bowl was almost ten years ago. Since then Smith has only made it back to the playoffs one time, with just  3 winning seasons, and an overall 89-87 record.

Smith has been known for making iffy personnel decisions. Such as sticking with Rex Grossman far too long in Chicago, and as recently as last year putting his faith in Josh McCown.

Also last year, in a season that ended with a 2-14 record for his team, he decided to try to keep winning instead of getting reps for the talented young players on the roster.

Here are his thoughts after a week 12 loss.

We are still in the playoff hunt. So there’s no looking at younger players — it’s who gives us our best chance to win, period. So it’s pretty easy for us right now. Forget the record right now; everyone in the NFC South is disappointed and has let games get away and feel like they’re a pretty good football team — we’re right in the mix of that. So it’s full steam ahead for Cincinnati [this week’s opponent] for us.

You have to admire the winning mentality, but a coach who is basically building a team from the ground up also needs to use logic.

However, this year, the Buccaneees were a bit more respectable as they jumped out to a 5-5 start, before finishing 1-5 for a 6-10 record. A 4 win improvement over last year.

That improvement seems to be why everyone is surprised that Lovie Smith got the ax.

But how much of that success can Smith really take credit for?

He is a defensive guy, and the Bucs allowed an average of 26 points a game to opposing teams which was 8th worst in the league.

Where the success came, was on the other side of the ball, behind Jameis Winston and the Bucs young and ultra talented offense.

The man responsible for that success?

Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter, who’s offense finished 5th in yards per game this year with an average of 375.9. A huge improvement over the 292 they averaged the year before he arrived.


Koetter has head coaching experience. He led the Arizona State Sun Devils to a 40-34 record and three bowl appearances, in 6 seasons.

He originally developed a reputation as an offensive genius as head coach at Boise State, where he led the Broncos to a 26-10 record.

In the past Koetter has spoken to the Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, and Kansas City Chiefs about their head coaching position, but the final straw for the Bucs may have been this week when Miami showed interest in acquiring his services.

It didn’t take long after that for them to drop Lovie Smith like a bad habit.
Who can blame them?

With names like Winston, Doug Martin, Charles Sims, Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins littering your offense, and little or nothing to show on defense, it may just be time to start a new chapter in Tampa Bay.

It appears that Koetter may just be the guy to do it.

A lot of Buccaneers players seemed surprised and disappointed at the thought of losing Lovie Smith.

However, if Koetter proves to be the genius the Bucs front office seem to think he is, and this offense can put up the type of numbers they are capable of. It shouldn’t be long before all is forgiven and forgotten.